Bitcoin has been around for over 12 years, and the crypto market capitalization is already $ 2 trillion. Cryptocurrencies many advantages over fiat currencies: decentralization, higher anonymity, instant transfers and low fees among many others.
Despite this, digital assets are still nothave become mainstream in full - few people use them for daily payments, and retailers around the world are in no hurry to accept them for payment. Let's figure out what obstacles stand in the way of the mass use of cryptocurrencies, how they can be circumvented, and whether the situation will change in the near future.
How many people in the world are using cryptocurrencies?
Nobody knows the exact answer to this question. But you can get a rough picture of what is happening if you turn to statistics.
So, according to a September study by the Cambridge Center of Alternative Finance (CCAF), about 101 million people... The study also says that by 3In the quarter of 2020, these users opened about 191 million accounts on crypto exchanges. We are sure that over the past six months, against the background of the unrestrained rally in Bitcoin, these indicators have become even higher. It is also worth noting that these numbers do not include cryptocurrency users who do not hold their digital assets on exchanges.
The CCAF numbers are corroborated by data from Binance Research over the same period - the organization's analysts also count over 100 million holders of digital assets.
At the same time, through the popular online serviceBlockchain.com has created about 70 million bitcoin wallets. And if you believe the calculations of the BuyBitcoinWorldWide service, then there are about 200 million BTC wallets in the world, of which 100 million are unique.
Separately, it is worth noting the growth rate of the numberholders of cryptocurrencies. According to CCAF, in 2017, digital currencies were used by no more than 5.8 million people, and in 2018 - already about 35 million.And, as we wrote above, by the end of 2020 this figure reached 101 million.If the trend continues, Total in a few years there will be about half a billion holders of cryptocurrencies.
But, even despite the impressive numbers, it is still impossible to talk about a truly massive use of cryptocurrencies. Consider what hinders this.
Technical limitations of blockchains
One of the main problems of modern blockchains is low scalability, that is, the inability of the network to conduct a large number of transactions in one second.
For example, Visa can carry out up to 65,000 transactionsper second, Bitcoin - up to 7, and Ethereum - up to 30. The blockchains of these cryptocurrencies cannot process transactions of hundreds of thousands of users. But at a speed like Visa and above, billions of people will be able to use cryptocurrencies - just like they use bank cards now.
Knowing about this problem, new projectsare developing blockchains that can handle such a load. Thus, blockchains are already successfully operating on the crypto market, which can process thousands and tens of thousands of transactions per second, for example: Polkadot, Cardano and Solana. But while many of these projects are at the very beginning of their development, and they have yet to become popular.
However, by itself, low bandwidthblockchain networks are far from the main problem for the crypto market. The key challenge is to create a fast blockchain that is decentralized and secure at the same time. This is called the scalability trilemma and is being addressed by leading blockchain developers.
For the first time this problem was presented by the co-founderEthereum Vitalik Buterin in 2018, where he described the need for blockchain projects to choose between decentralization, high scalability and security. But so far, blockchain networks with two of these properties are presented on the crypto market. For example, Bitcoin is decentralized and secure, but very slow and virtually non-scalable. And the EOS blockchain network has achieved high scalability (up to 9,000 transactions per second), but it had to sacrifice decentralization for this.
Another unique property of blockchain networks,which can turn into a problem for a mass user - the need to work with private keys. It is thanks to them that the user can access their coins in the crypto wallet. However, private keys must be kept in a safe place and only known to the holder of the cryptocurrency. Otherwise, if, for example, the private key is lost, then access to the assets will be lost forever.
Many cryptocurrencies are not suitable for small payments
Due to the technical limitations listed above, most cryptocurrencies are not suitable for daily small transactions.
For example, a transaction on the Bitcoin network can goseveral hours or even days if the blockchain is heavily loaded. And the cost of the commission in Ethereum, due to strong congestion recently, ranges from $ 15 to $ 30 - with such transaction costs, it is profitable to buy only very expensive goods for ETH.
And the retailers themselves are not yet very willingoffer the ability to pay with cryptocurrency. And although there are more and more sellers who accept digital assets in exchange for goods every year, on a global scale, they are still a drop in the ocean.
For cryptocurrencies to become mainstream, they mustbe convenient for the mass buyer who wants to order food delivery, buy clothes or trinkets on AliExpress. Otherwise, the use of cryptocurrencies will be limited to a tech-savvy audience ready to specifically look for the right seller. However, steps in this direction are already being taken by Visa and PayPal.
Cryptocurrencies are not clear to many
Lack of understanding how cryptocurrencies work is one of the main barriers to their mass use.
Most cryptocurrencies, especially early ones, are complexfor technically untrained people. To work with the same bitcoin, you need to create a crypto wallet, figure out what a public and private key is, come up with a reliable way to store keys, and also figure out on which platforms you can exchange BTC for other cryptocurrencies or withdraw it to fiat. Most people don't know how cryptocurrencies and their blockchains work, let alone mining, consensus algorithms, and other intricacies of most cryptocurrencies. And it is precisely the lack of understanding of their structure that leads to the erroneous opinion that they are all fraud, pyramids, or a financial bubble.
To make cryptocurrencies more widespread,using them should be as easy as making a payment with a bank card or Apple Pay. An ordinary person does not know how Visa or PayPal work, but easily copes with payments through their systems. With cryptocurrencies, there should also be: the ability to buy, sell, store, transfer and pay with them should be available even to those who do not understand anything about them.
Among the positive aspects, it is worth noting thatpeople are starting to believe more and more in the prospects of cryptocurrencies. If we compare several recent polls, it is easy to see how the attitude of ordinary people to the developments of the crypto market is changing.
For example, The Tokenist platform analyzedSurveys of US residents in 2017, 2018 and 2019. In three years, the number of Americans who know what bitcoin is has doubled - from 30% to 61%, the number of holders of this coin - from 4% to 14%, and the number of those who trust BTC more than banks has grown from 18% to 47% (!). Moreover, in 2017, 28% of respondents believed that in 10 years the majority of people will use Bitcoin. Now there are already 43% of them.
Analysts fromHarris Poll. So, from 2017 to 2019, the number of Bitcoin holders among Americans increased from 2% to 11%, and the number of respondents who are confident that BTC will be massively adopted in 10 years has grown from 28% to 33%.
In Europe, according to ING Group for 2018 and 2019, the level of public confidence in cryptocurrencies is lower. But, for example, in Turkey the coin is trusted by more than 60% of those who passed the poll.
In Russia, over half of the respondents are ready to keep their money in digital assets, but only a quarter of the respondents believe in their bright future.
Legal uncertainty of regulators
Despite the fact that bitcoin is already 12 years old, in many countries there is still no clear regulation of cryptocurrencies.
Countries where cryptocurrencies are legalthe status of, for example, the US and EU countries in the regulation of digital assets focused on combating their use in money laundering and terrorist financing. Earlier, we examined in detail why cryptocurrencies should not be associated with crime. In fact, from $ 1 to $ 3 billion a year are laundered through cryptocurrencies, while through banks, including large ones, up to $ 2 trillion. Terrorists are also not interested in cryptocurrencies - they do not trust them, do not understand how they work, and cash provides them with greater anonymity than Bitcoin.
The situation in Russia is also ambiguous.The authorities adopted the Law on Digital Assets, according to which cryptocurrencies are recognized as property, they can be traded, but you cannot pay for goods and services. In this case, it is necessary to declare the presence of cryptocurrencies, if their turnover exceeds 600,000 rubles per year, and pay taxes on income from them.
I am glad that the situation is gradually improving.No one in the West is going to ban cryptocurrencies (and such a ban would hardly be effective) - it is only about regulating them in the same way as traditional financial systems. Therefore, crypto platforms are required to comply with KYC / AML norms - to identify customers and report their transactions to financial regulators. In many countries, exchanges are also required to be licensed to operate.
But there is also a positive point - the authoritiestake the crypto sector seriously and are ready to work with it. It is also beneficial for users who do not care about confidentiality - their money is more protected.
Excessive volatility of cryptocurrencies
The rates of many cryptocurrencies are subject to sharpleaps and bounds too volatile. No one on the crypto market is surprised by the rise or fall of prices by 5-10% during the day. This is an ideal situation for speculators, but absolutely not suitable for the mass user and large investors. So, according to a new report from JP Morgan, it is high volatility that scares institutional investors away from large-scale investments in cryptocurrency assets.
The high volatility of cryptocurrencies also hindersuse them as a means of payment. How to transfer $ 1000 in cryptocurrency, if in an hour this amount can become $ 900. Any currency must be stable so that it can be used as a reliable medium of exchange.
Stablecoins - cryptocurrencies pegged to pricethe underlying asset is the most successful solution to the volatility problem of digital coins. These assets are prime contenders to achieve truly massive use. They have all the advantages of cryptocurrencies without high fees or volatility.
In a joint report of the G7 Working Group, the BankInternational Settlements (BIS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and several central banks, regulators recognize the advantages of stablecoins in transfers and payments over traditional fiat systems. Moreover, authorities fear that stablecoins as a medium for cross-border transfers and payments could become so popular that fiat currencies could be squeezed out.
It is the fear of this that drives central banks toaround the world to rush to launch their own digital currencies - CBDC. This is a government-owned alternative to stablecoins that the authorities can fully control.
Threat of hacker attacks
Security is still a weak pointcryptocurrency infrastructure. News about hacking of crypto exchanges and user wallets has long been a surprise. So, in 2020, hackers stole $ 3.8 billion worth of cryptocurrencies. And it's not just the skill of the criminals: the developers themselves are often in a hurry and make mistakes that can be exploited by attackers.
Because of this, many people and companies forget aboutthe benefits of blockchain and avoid investing in digital assets. The mass user needs guarantees that in the event of a hacker attack, he will receive his money back. After all, not all exchanges are ready to compensate users for losses.
Exchanges and developers must pay attention to securitytheir projects are much more attention than they are now. They must also guarantee the return of funds to victims of break-ins. Then users will know that the crypto sector is no longer like the Wild West, and not only themselves are responsible for the safety of their funds.
We are on the cusp of mass adoption of cryptocurrencies
Despite all the above barriers on the way to mass use, we are sure that cryptocurrencies will soon overcome them.
It must be understood that the adoption of cryptocurrencies onglobally goes through several stages. At first, Bitcoin and other early cryptocurrencies were just a geek fad. Then speculators entered the sector and an investment boom began, which peaked in 2017-2018 against the backdrop of massive ICOs. And now we are at the stage of institutional adoption - cryptocurrencies are recognized as a full-fledged financial asset. The next step is the integration of cryptocurrencies with payment systems around the world.
So, PayPal added in November 2020the ability to transfer cryptocurrencies, and at the end of this March - launched a full-fledged service for customers from the United States to pay for goods and services with their help. The payment company believes in the potential of digital currencies. Considering that PayPal has over 360 million users, this service provides access to cryptocurrencies for many people who have not even thought about using digital currencies before. PayPal will allow you not to worry about private keys and wallet settings - users will be able to pay with cryptocurrencies in a familiar interface, and the service itself will be responsible for converting cryptocurrencies into local fiat currencies.
Visa and Mastercard also want to be in the centermassive adoption of digital currencies. Visa plans to add the ability to purchase BTC and support for BTC wallets. And Mastercard is already introducing cryptocurrencies into its payment infrastructure. Both companies are already working closely with crypto platforms.
Smaller payment services, includingRobinhood, Revolut, and Square, among others, are also launching cryptocurrency adoption initiatives. Hopefully companies with billions of users around the world like Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook will follow suit. Moreover, if Facebook's Diem stablecoin launch project succeeds, it could bring hundreds of millions of people to the crypto market at once.
Where is it more profitable to buy bitcoin? TOP-5 exchanges
For a safe and convenient purchase of cryptocurrencies with a minimum commission, we have prepared a rating of the most reliable and popular cryptocurrency exchanges that support deposit and withdrawal of funds in rubles, hryvnias, dollars and euros.
Site reliability is primarily determined bytrading volume and number of users. By all key metrics, Binance is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world. Binance is also the most popular cryptocurrency exchange in Russia and the CIS, since it has the largest turnover of funds and supports transfers in rubles from bank cards Visa / MasterCard and payment systems QIWI, Advcash, Payeer.
Especially for beginners, we have prepared a detailed guide: How to buy bitcoin on a crypto exchange for rubles?
Rating of cryptocurrency exchanges:
|1||Binance (Editor's Choice)||https://binance.com||9.7|
The criteria by which the rating is set in our rating of crypto-exchanges:
- Work reliability - stability of access to all platform functions, including uninterrupted trading, deposit and withdrawal of funds, as well as the period of work on the market and the daily trading volume.
- Commissions - the size of the commission for trading operations within the site and the withdrawal of assets.
- Feedback and support - we analyze user reviews and the quality of technical support.
- Convenience of the interface - we evaluate the functionality and intuitiveness of the interface, possible errors and failures when working with the exchange.
- Platform features - availability of additional features - futures, options, staking, etc.
- final grade - the average number of points for all indicators, determines the place in the rating.
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